14 Million Paid to 20 LHA Landlords Across UK

A trade union wants the Information Commissioners Office to instruct councils to reveal the names of the 20 individual landlords who between them have been paid over £14m in housing benefits in the 2012-13 financial year.

The call comes after a request by the GMB union to 380 local authorities across the country; most returns from councils have specified sums but have removed names of the recipients.

Now the union’s case for the landlords to be named has been taken up by Andrew Pakes, Labour & Co-operative Parliamentary Candidate for Milton Keynes South, who says for the sake of transparency in the use of public money, the councils should name names.

So far it is believed that councils have told the GMB that £138.5m of public money has been paid in the year in question to individual landlords.

The delay in naming the individuals – if they are ever named at all – may be down to the ICO seeking to distinguish between personal and professional business; at least some of the landlords receiving housing benefit may not be full-time landlords, so may not be regarded as being professional business landlords.

Paying housing benefits to meet housing costs for rented accommodation for tenants on low incomes dates back to the 1980s but the cost has now ballooned to £23 billion per year. While over the past 30 years some £411 billion of taxpayer’s funds have been spent on housing benefit it is not clear in every case who the ultimate recipients are.

For 30% of tenants entitled to housing benefit the cash is paid direct to landlords.

To establish the identity of these landlords GMB and Daily Mirror carried out research at the Land Registry to establish the beneficial owners of properties and Freedom of Information requests were made to councils to establish the amounts paid to them.

Some 69 councils refused to disclose any information – so there could be high paid housing benefit landlords who escape the paper’s “name and shame” campaign.